Patrick Lange

Two-time Ironman world champion Patrick Lange and his coach for the last four years, Faris Al-Sultan, have, “by mutual agreement, decided to end our working relationship this year,” Lange said on social media earlier this week.

Lange burst on to the long-distance scene in 2016, just months after he started working with Al-Sultan, the 2005 Ironman world champion. That year, Lange quit his job as a physiotherapist and committed full-time to the sport. It was a good move – within a few months he’d won Ironman Texas, his first long-distance event. That win paled in comparison to the attention he garnered six months later when he flew to a third-place finish in Kona, breaking Mark Allen’s long-standing marathon record with a blazing 2:39:45 split.

A year later, despite early season injuries and generally lackluster pre-Kona results, Lange went two spots better in Kona, running his way from 11th to first (relegating Canada’s Lionel Sanders to second) and becoming the Ironman World Champion. Last year he successfully defended his world title, becoming the first man to break the eight-hour barrier in Kona with his course record 7:52:39.

Patrick Lange sets a new course record in Kona, becoming the first man to go under eight hours.

Al-Sultan’s guidance was generally credited with Lange’s ability to come up big when it counted in Kona, despite relatively unimpressive race seasons heading into each of his two world championship titles. Which is why no one was willing to count Lange out when it came to this year’s race in Kona, even though he’d had a tough year that saw him struggle through the marathon at the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt, and perform well below expectations at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Nice.

Lange had a lot going on with both his professional and personal live in 2019, too. Last year he proposed to his girlfriend, Julia Hofmann, at the finish line in Kona. The pair moved to Austria and were married in August, a few weeks before the worlds in Nice.

Faris Al-Sultan coaching at this year’s ITU World Triathlon Edmonton.

Al-Sultan’s life got very busy part way through the year, too – he took on the role as head coach of the elite team for the German Triathlon Federation (DTU) last fall. During an interview in Edmonton in July, Al-Sultan alluded to the challenges of trying to prepare a team for the Olympics while also working with Lange. The German squad has performed well above expectations in 2019, a sign that Al-Sultan’s new position is making a difference.

 

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